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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nightflyers is a science fiction thriller where a group of people are trapped in an isolated place and hunted by an unseen and powerful alien force. It's based on a novella by George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones books. The show thrives on the anticipation and dread of violence, but actual depictions of violence come in quick, brief flashes. The sci-fi elements are generally straightforward and easily understood -- there are spaceships, robotics, telepaths, and aliens. Because of the nature of the storyline, all of the characters are suspicious of one another and, though there's room for a hero to emerge, no one comes off as a good person.
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What's the Story?
In NIGHTFLYERS, the Earth is dying, and astrophysicist Karl O'Branin (Eoin Mackin) believes that meeting alien life forms will give him the keys to humanity's survival. He leaves his wife and daughter behind in order to travel through space with Captain Roy Eris (David Ajala) and his crew aboard the Nightflyer. O'Branin also brings along an aggressive, telepathic kid named Thale (Sam Strike) and his psychiatrist, Dr. Agatha Matheson (Gretchen Mol), believing them essential to communicating with extraterrestrial life. During launch, things begin to go wrong for the crew of the Nightflyer, putting everyone's lives in danger, and sewing mistrust among them. As strange events continue to happen, they wonder if Thale is responsible, or if it could be someone (or something) else.
Is It Any Good?
A group of people being chased by an unknowable assailant -- it's one of those rare premises that's always satisfying, and often terrifying. George R. R. Martin's take on that premise recalls two masterpieces of that particular subgenre, Ridley Scott's Alien and John Carpenter's The Thing, and references other sci-fi classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey along the way. It's possible that Nightflyers is placing itself among such landmarks in order to set up expectations for a typical sci-fi thriller and then upending them, the way that Martin's Game of Thrones uses fantasy cliches and archetypes and then completely undermines them. But even if it doesn't end up reaching the subversive highs of that other Martin-based TV show, this is still a creatively satisfying (and occasionally terrifying) adaptation.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the future. Is Nightflyers a plausible depiction of how the future might look? What are the differences between this world and our current one?
Why do you think many TV shows are set in enclosed environments (boats, spaceships, etc.)? What possibilities do these settings create?
- Premiere date: December 2, 2018
- Cast: Gretchen Mol, Eoin Macken, David Ajala
- Network: Syfy
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Dated but still extremely scary. Not for younger kids.
The Thing (1982)
Gory fear fest is a classic the faint-hearted should skip.
Explorers confront fear of the unknown in scary mystery.
For kids who love sci-fi
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate